Money talk – where do you even start? One of the major reasons women contemplate staying in an unhappy marriage is because they’re worried about money: how to handle it, how to save it, how to invest it. But with the right help, it can be simplified and easy to navigate, even if you’ve never managed money before.
Though never divorced herself, Britt Williams Baker says her company, Dow Janes, draws in a large community of recent divorcees who want to learn about controlling their own finances. With a Harvard Business degree, more than a decade of investment experience, and working as a money mindset coach, Britt co-founded a business that teaches women how to take control of their finances with a step-by-step education and a community of support. She sat down with Jessica and T.H. on the Divorce etc… podcast to talk about how Dow Janes helps women when they need it most.
Britt’s background in investing isn’t typical. She started investing at just seven years old, and began investing in the stock market in college. After grad school, a lot of her friends came to her for investment advice, and this is what gave her the idea to start the O.G. Dow Janes.
“It was a club of women in my living room, where we’d gather on a monthly or quarterly basis and talk about things related to investing and money,” describes Britt. “It was the first time that I had a place, and was creating a place, where it was totally safe for women to talk about money.”
Dow Janes Today
Today Dow Janes is a financial education digital platform. “We teach everything from getting out of debt, learning how to save and budget, to learning to invest.” The step-by-step education provided, along with financial coaches to help you out, breaks down the process for people to gain a better understanding about where their money is going and how to invest and save.
Her business partner, Laurie-Anne, is an empowerment coach and energy healer, as well as a financial coach. Britt explains Laurie-Anne’s energy healing as part of the attitude they bring to financial coaching. “We have a really holistic, spiritual approach to money coaching, but energy healing itself is not something we’re actively doing. It’s actually super practical and grounded.”
With that in mind, it’s important to recognize the role emotions play in money management. Learning how to manage emotions, especially if that is playing a factor in someone staying in an unhealthy relationship, is vital in becoming financially responsible.
“It’s really important to do things in the right order, because if you mess up that order, you’re actually shooting yourself in the foot, in terms of making the most of your money,” Britt warns.
It’s all about gathering information, tracking what you actually need on a monthly basis. You’ll want to start out by allocating how much you estimate your spending into two categories: your “needs,” such as insurance, mortgage, debt; and then your “wants,” the things you don’t necessarily need to survive but would enjoy. Then you’ve set yourself up for figuring out if this number is actually feasible and how it plays out with your financial situation.
One of the first things you’ll want to tackle to get you on the right track is credit card debt. That’s going to be what adds up the fastest, and is one of the most expensive things that people have in their financial lives. Then you’re going to want to save an emergency fund – a buffer fund. If something unexpected comes up, like a hole in the roof, an emergency situation, and you need money right away, that’s going to be where you turn. Then, the third step is investing both your retirement and non-retirement accounts.
If you’re coming out of a marriage and you’ve never been a part of the money conversation, you’re bound to feel lost. If you can gather information like this and educate yourself on what you need and what you have, you’ll feel much more prepared before going into conversation with lawyers about assets, investments, and how to navigate that money in a divorce.
Breaking Down Investing Myths
There are tons of myths out there when it comes to investing, especially among women. The biggest myth is that investing is risky and can be scary. “If you do it the right way, first saving your emergency fund and then planning to invest for the long term, you can weather the ups and downs of the market,” Britt says.
So what’s long term? You want to make sure you’re investing for over three years, or even better, five. Even if the market dips during this time, there’s no reason to be scared, because by holding on to your investment, eventually it’ll recover. “If you just have the patience and have the ability to keep it invested, it doesn’t have to be risky,” reassures Britt.
The general guideline Britt holds on how to divide up your money is to allocate 50% on your needs, 30% on wants, and 20% for savings. That’s going to get you the healthiest financial situation.
The Million Dollar Year Program – Especially Good for Divorcees
The Dow Janes program, The Million Dollar Year, has gained a lot of traction, especially for divorced women. Her initial prediction of the target demographic was those in their 30s just starting out in their careers, but they’ve found that this is actually an attractive program for many divorced women who want that dissection of financial literacy and how to create their financial life, even sometimes from scratch. “We have all sorts of women, but the bulk of them are post-divorce,” Britt has observed. “And so they have this tribe of like-minded people who can rally them through this together.” Dow Janes helps build this community by setting people up with accountability buddies. To have someone who knows exactly what you’re going through is so helpful in easing the fear of dealing with money.
There’s even a bonus course called The $1,000 Month, developed just to help people earn extra income, even if they’re short on time, energy, or ideas. It helps you compile a list of skill sets, assets, time, resources, and gives a spreadsheet with hundreds of options on how to make more money – whether it’s a side hustle, asking for a raise, or anything that will increase your overall income.
The one key piece of advice Britt shares is to trust that you can do this. “It probably seems hard, but don’t get overwhelmed,” she advises. “It’s absolutely possible.” Financial literacy can seem daunting, and you may feel like you’ll never master it, but the truth is that anyone can, with the right help.